By Bruce Stambaugh
When I was a youngster, each fall my father would pack the family into the old jalopy and head to Holmes County, Ohio from Canton to view the leaves.
The trees were gorgeous, the pastoral vistas delightful. It was like stepping back in time once we crossed the county line. I suppose some people still feel that way today.
Like my father, I loved coming to Holmes County. The colorful leaves, the tangy Swiss cheese, the horse and buggies, and the images of a simpler life left a lasting impression on me, even as a juvenile.
The air was crisp and clean, the views splendid, the people quaint. With Mom a landscape artist, Dad kept pointing out scenes she could paint, as if Mom needed any help noticing.
Before entering the county seat, Millersburg, we always stopped at the same place. Dad would pull off to the side of the road by the golf course so we could all admire the giant, vibrant sugar maple tree that stood on the course near the highway. It was a stately fixture to be sure, aglow with yellow, orange and red leaves. Against the manicured green fairways, it was a picture of beauty.
Dad would pull out his pride and joy eight-millimeter movie camera and film away. He loved to show the home movies over and over again at family gatherings. I don’t need to view the old footage to recall the moment. The memories are as vivid as the leaves on that old maple.
Perhaps that’s because irony of irony I ended up spending my adult life here. I pass by the memorable spot frequently. The natural beauty is a nice reminder, especially in autumn.
I don’t have to pile in the car and drive 35 miles to see the living artistry. I just have to look out the window. With the leaves at their peak, the real life painting outside our door is ever changing.
Of course, I do like to tour the hills and valleys of our county to take in the complete show. I have my favorite routes.
I especially enjoy traveling around taking digital photographs on partly cloudy days. One minute everything seems dull, then the sun breaks through, and I can’t snap the camera shutter fast enough. My father would probably tell me to get a camcorder.
I love the brilliant fencerows dotted with burgundy ash, yellowy white oak, crimson red oak, sunny sassafras, and red, green, yellow and tangerine sugar maples. The hardwood rainbows highlight emerald hayfields and stands of brittle corn shocks.
I also enjoy occasional drives through the heavily forested Killbuck and Black Creek valleys. The steep hillsides are loaded with the same mixed hardwoods as in the eastern end of the county.
White clapboard farmhouses and weathered barns, surrounded by lush green lawns, lay at the feet of the dappled hills. More often than not chocolate soybean fields fill in the narrow bottoms.
Even with that much splendor, I still return to the side of the road by the golf course. Though the old tree my father loved is gone, time has matured others nearby.
Buoyed by the beauty and the memories, I snap a few shots of the delightful scenery. I am keenly aware of being in both the present and the past. Like the changing seasons, the ebbs and flows of life’s ironies have that everlasting effect.
The column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2012